John Tracy, architect of the most watched television newscast in Anchorage for nearly 20 years, is leaving the news business to become a partner at an Anchorage public relations firm. The longtime news director and anchor at KTUU-TV Channel 2 said Tuesday he will share ownership of Bradley Reid & Associates with its two other partners, Connie Reid and Debbie Reinwand.
Tracy, who has won Emmy awards for his news coverage, said his job was not jeopardized by the recent sale of the TV station. But the sale was a defining moment that prompted him to consider his future.
Leaving was a tough decision, he said.
"I just think I need to jump into the deep end again and try something new. I've got one career left in me. ... The timing just seemed to make sense." Tracy has worked at KTUU in various news jobs since 1985 and been news director for the past 18 years. Some of the most memorable stories of his career were covering the Iditarod Sled Dog Race and the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, he said.
The Prince William Sound environmental disaster played a major role in the development of the KTUU newsroom, he said. The station hit its stride covering the grounding of the Exxon Valdez, and it was soon after the spill that the station grew to a one-hour newscast, he said.
Reid and Reinwand said Tracy joining their 40-year-old company is a big coup for them.
"We've been looking for ways to bring more depth and dimension to our staff," Reinwand said.
"We've worked with John for many years and have always admired his work," Reid said.
One day, they realized, "That's our guy," she said.
Bradley Reid is one of the state's largest advertising and public relations firms, with 30 employees handling accounts for some of the state's biggest companies, including Conoco Phillips and Providence Alaska Medical Center.
One of its most prominent ad campaigns is the "B4UDIE" billboard blitz hawking Alaska tourism in the Lower 48.
KTUU, created in the 1950s, was sold several months ago to Schurz Communications, a family-owned media conglomerate based in South Bend, Ind. Schurz owns TV stations, newspapers and other media companies around the country.
Tracy said the news staff is upbeat about Schurz. "Their news philosophy and guidelines mirror ours," he said.
He said he hopes the station's next news director will be selected from its current staff.
Tracy expects to remain at KTUU through the end of the month, he said.
By ELIZABETH BLUEMINK